The opening of a new campus for the American Community School of Abu Dhabi is projected for Fall 2023, the year we celebrate our 50th Anniversary.
Building an innovative, environmentally sustainable campus reflects our position as a globally leading American international school. It also furthers our mission of excellence in academics, the arts, athletics, and service to others, for the next 50 years and beyond.
New Campus Vision
Empowering Students to Shape the Future Today and for Years to Come
With the enthusiastic support of the UAE government and key stakeholders in the Abu Dhabi ecosystem, ACS has the unique opportunity to build a world-class, innovative, and sustainable campus on Saadiyat Island that pushes the boundaries of excellence for the next generation and becomes a source of pride for Abu Dhabi for decades to come.
New Campus Highlights
- Doubles the size of the current campus, offering much-needed space for our academics, arts, athletics and service-learning programs
- Improves infrastructure, parking, security and green space
- Is located in one of the most desirable locations in Abu Dhabi, close to NYU Abu Dhabi and the newly developing cultural district
- Gives ACS the ability to compete on a more equal footing for the most accomplished faculty
- Sets the standard for environmentally sustainable educational facilities in the region
- Provides inspired, flexible, and innovative learning spaces across a more sustainable and technologically-advanced campus
- Allows for a larger student population, enabling expanded programmatic offerings while maintaining a close sense of community
New Campus Development & Timeline
Extensive exploration, research and input from community members in recent years have concluded that the current ACS campus cannot support the necessary programs for a leading American international school.
ACS examines options to upgrade its aging and space-constrained campus and accommodate its expanding student body. The option of expanding across two campuses is pursued and rejected.
Community feedback indicates a preference for a single connected campus that allows for continuity of education, community cohesiveness and interaction across grade levels, important elements to delivering on the ACS mission. The decision is made to remain on the existing campus and develop a new building to increase enrollment to 1,200 students.
In an effort to meet growing demand and improve the school’s fiscal sustainability, ACS opens the Grade 4-5 Elementary School building. While the new building allows ACS to add 150 seats, climate surveys from faculty, parents, and students consistently indicate that additional and upgraded facilities are needed to provide excellence in academics, the arts, athletics, and service and to support ACS’ “whole child” curriculum.
The Board of Trustees re-assesses the need for a new campus and creates a Campus Development Taskforce. Redeveloping the existing campus is determined to be too costly and will negatively impact students’ quality of education. The taskforce determines that ACS’ pursuit of excellence and long-term sustainability requires a move. While there is broad agreement, the Board specifies that it is important to preserve the community that makes ACS special.
April: The Board holds a Community Strategy Summit to provide an opportunity to integrate the community’s ideas into the new campus development. Guiding principles for the new campus emerge and confirm the board’s decision:
- A single-campus supporting approximately 1,600 students Grades K-12 enables ACS to offer more diverse programs, while maintaining its community feel
- A 21st-century education requires state-of-the-art innovative facilities beyond what our current campus can provide
- Redeveloping the existing campus would involve 2-3 years of disruption, safety issues, higher costs, and the constraints of a three-hectare campus
- Pursuing land and funding options to build a new campus enable ACS to better deliver its mission to its students while securing and sustaining its long term future
- A new location needs to be sufficiently centrally located
November: The board issues an RFP to hire a qualified architect to develop a pre-concept design and master planning document for the new campus.
January: The campus redevelopment task force unanimously decides to hire the architecture firm, Broadway Malyan, to prepare a pre-concept design, master plan, and cost estimate to articulate the goals, expectations, requirements, and concerns regarding the new campus.
June: Saadiyat Island Land Granted
The Board announces that the leadership of Abu Dhabi, in close collaboration with the U.S. Embassy, has granted ACS an approximately six-hectare plot to build a new, state-of-the-art campus. The plot is double the current campus size and is located on Saadiyat Island, near New York University Abu Dhabi. The significance of this gesture cannot be overstated and is a reflection of the deep commitment of Abu Dhabi’s leadership to the future of ACS and for the visionary growth of Abu Dhabi and its youth.
Saadiyat Island is widely viewed as one of the most desirable locations in Abu Dhabi, considering the potential for ACS to access and utilize the world class educational resources of NYU Abu Dhabi, as well as exposure to the nearby cultural district amenities. The Saadiyat site is seen as an ideal location for ACS’ community of life-long learners.
Saadiyat Island is conveniently located next to the business districts of Al Maryah and Reem Islands and the existing and planned road network ensures easy access to and from the proposed campus. This combination of factors leads the Board to unanimously conclude that a new, expanded, and modern campus on Saadiyat Island will be in the best long-term interest of ACS and its community.
September: ACS engages in a community survey and town hall meetings to integrate input and fine tune aspiration.
October-December: ACS holds faculty / student / parent workshops, actively engaging the community in the campus design process, incorporating stakeholder input from two town halls, surveys and visioning sessions.
January-September: ACS engages with government stakeholders and banks to develop its financing strategy.
March: The pre-concept design is unveiled to key constituents. ACS issues an RFP for the detailed design.
April: The Board conducts a separate competitive bidding process to retain Community Counselling Service (CCS), a highly respected, international fundraising firm with extensive experience working in the Gulf and with independent schools around the world to help ACS determine the level of philanthropic support that exists and to develop a plan of action to financially support our desire to deliver the best campus for our students.
June: After a rigorous and competitive bidding process, the Board retains Broadway Malyan/AECOM as the architect to develop the detailed design and construction documents and to provide cost management services for the new campus. ACS also contracts with Colliers Project Leaders to hire Antonis Slicher to serve as the school’s full-time project manager.
December: The Board approves the concept design by Broadway Malyan and Aecom.
Construction is scheduled to commence in fall 2020, and the move to a new campus could potentially coincide with our 50th Anniversary in 2022-23. Key factors that determine achieving the milestone are design, construction, and funding.
Anticipated new campus opening
How Much Will the New Campus Cost?
While it is unlikely tuition will remain static in the coming 3-5 years, the Board does not intend to rely on tuition increases to fund the new campus. The current funding strategy focuses on grants, traditional financing, fund-raising, existing reserves, and the new capital fee. Every effort will be made to exercise financial prudence and mitigate any impact to tuition as a result of the new campus. ACS is grateful to the leadership of Abu Dhabi for generously donating the land on Saadiyat and providing significant financial support. The project would not have been possible without them. ACS is developing opportunities for parents, alumni, corporations and others who care about the school to participate in this historic moment and leave their mark.
To learn more about how you can participate, click below.
The ACS Story
(Explore Our History)
Unlocking the Potential of Our New Campus
The opening of our new campus is a transformational moment for ACS and Abu Dhabi.
This move presents an opportunity for parents, alumni and corporate friends to increase their charitable commitments, thus unlocking the full potential of the site.
With support from our community, we will and make the most of this once in a generation opportunity and move a significantly enhanced ACS into our dynamic new site. Our schoolwill push the boundaries of excellence and become an even greater source of pride for Abu Dhabi for decades to come.
Building on Our Tradition of Charitable Support
ACS was founded with charitable support: the land for our current campus was generously donated by the late Founder of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Over the decades, thousands of people across the ACS community have given generously, investing financially and with their time to ensure that our school can continue to grow and evolve.
Now, parents, alumni and corporates friends are invited to support the school, make charitable commitments and ultimately leave their mark in this historic moment.